Documentary with a beat


POSTED: Friday, July 31, 2009

The life and career of the always-busy DJ Diplo is coming full circle and back to his first love, film.

And that's thanks to what he's currently known for, namely his adept skill in mixing up different genres of world dance music with a club sensibility.

Arriving in Hawaii after a gig last weekend at Japan's Fuji Rock Festival, not only will he be spinning in Chinatown tonight and tomorrow on Maui; Diplo will also present “;Favela on Blast,”; a lively documentary he co-produced, before his set at NextDoor this evening.

An idea originally born out of a couple of mix CDs Diplo did in 2004 and '05 featuring the raucous funk carioca (or baile funk) that emanates from the hillside and valley slums of Brazil's Rio de Janeiro, “;Favela on Blast”; is an eye- and ear-opening look at the people and audiences who regularly go off and shake some booty at massive neighborhood parties, driven by an intoxicating blend of huge drumbeats found in Brazilian samba and Miami bass.

Speaking by phone from his Philadelphia home earlier this month, Diplo (real name Wesley Pentz) said, “;My current goal is to do more film and television,”; as well as doing alternative projects, like the most current one he did with his musical partner from London, Switch (Dave Taylor), in their new duo identity as Major Lazer and the Jamaican dancehall-inspired album “;Guns Don't Kill People ... Lazers Do!”;

Diplo and Switch made their reputations in the mainstream last year when their work on M.I.A.'s mega-hit “;Paper Planes”; was a Grammy award nominee for Song of the Year. Now, as Major Lazer, the album is a killer combination of dancehall and vintage reggae. Major Lazer himself is a cartoon character of their own creation—his back-story is being a Jamaican commando who fought in the “;secret Zombie War of 1984.”; The major lost both arms in combat but now has prosthetic limbs armed with experimental lasers, courtesy the U.S. military.





        » Where: NextDoor, 43 N. Hotel St.

» When: 9:30 tonight


» Cost: $20 (includes screening of documentary “;Favela on Blast”;)


» Info: 550-8457 or hsblinks.com/k7


» Note: Additional show at 9 p.m. tomorrow at Charley's Restaurant & Saloon, Maui




Diplo said he's currently working on a Major Lazer pilot episode that should be “;fun and crazy”; for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. But what will be seen soon on cable television, specifically the middle of next month, will be “;No One's Safe”; on Current TV.

“;It'll be half travel show and half music,”; he said. “;People who follow me know I like to blog and podcast during my random travels. The first show will be about Angola and Africa.”;

Getting back to “;Favela on Blast,”; Diplo felt it was crucial to document the music he helped make popular worldwide because “;it's always changing, always developing. Even while we were working on the film, sometimes an artist that we featured would go missing that we would suspect that, heaven forbid, got killed. So it was a real hit-or-miss proposition.

“;I first got into funk carioca about 10 years ago, when it was more tribally crazy and minimal. Now it's doing mad all over Brazil. It's always evolving, and it's become really big, with a lot of pop influences and has gotten really commercial. But the ghetto stuff is still more violent.

“;I'm always out there in the streets, listening,”; Diplo said. “;Like, I'm really interested in what's happening in Hawaii. There could maybe be something unique happening there. ... This genre (of world dance music) is so weird. I thought I knew it all, but something always keeps bubbling up. I'm always fascinated by it.

“;I used to be a straight crate digger, but now I feel I'm this very postmodern musician. But basically I'm doing this to make the kids dance. I'm not a scientist.”;




Mad Decent

Twitter - Diplo
        » twitter.com/DIPLO


MySpace - Diplo
        » www.myspace.com/diplo




Diplo said he plans to play a little more roots reggae than he usually does at his two gigs here, but you can be guaranteed that “;I'll always just be doing mad (stuff) with the music.”;

He also keeps busy with his major label projects—Diplo has done remixes for stars like Kanye West, Brittany Spears and Gwen Stefani—as well as his own label Mad Decent and his Heaps Decent community projects of bringing hip-hop workshops into indigenous communities, which has already started in Australia, with plans to expand it into London and South Africa.

“;I'm going to milk this music for all its worth,”; he said.